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We Are Moving Relocation Complaint - Horrible Moving Experience

Review by madpoetx on 2009-03-28
CALIFORNIA -- I applied at move.com to receive quotes for a move between Ukiah, CA, and Philadelphia, PA in order to ascertain what the cost would be. I received several quotes, and settled on this company (WeAreMoving.com) because they were offering to move my single room full of personal belongings for a cost of 898.80, according to the email quote from a salesperson named Jack(I had actually received two quotes for the same amount from this company, from Jack, and another representative). The day before the scheduled move, Jack called me at my cellphone and asked if I would be so kind as to allow for a 2000lb quote, as my home address in California was so far away from their home office in San Jose. Despite our previous agreement, I reluctantly agreed, verbally accepting the 2000lb quote which was slightly more at about $1200.

On the day of the move, 3 individuals showed up at my house driving a large tractor trailer. Before the paperwork could even be talked about, the two helpers began wrapping my personal belongings up, and an Israeli gentleman by the name of Isaac asked me to sit down with him and go over the paperwork. I asked the two gentlemen to stop packing my belongings until my paperwork could be sorted out, and they reluctantly agreed. I tried to go over my contract with Isaac to cover all the issues, but he kept pushing me to sign the document without reading it. I noted that a weight entry at the bottom of the page had been left blank, and Isaac reassured me that the entry would be put in when my belongings were weighed in at the scales. He again verbally confirmed the weight quote of 2000lbs to me, reassuring me that there was no way my small room full of belongings could exceed that weight on the scale(heaviest item was a big screen TV at 60lbs).

At this point, I signed the contract and the workers began packing up my belongings. I asked them to itemize my belongings, because I had a number of electronic items that needed to be cataloged, to include two video game systems(XBOX360 and PS3) a surround sound system, and my HD camcorder. He stated that they were already packed, but that the box was already sealed and displayed the numbering system on the box that matched the inventory number on the bill of lading. He then stated that my items would not be repacked, and would be delivered in their original boxes. The entire time this packup was taking place, Isaac was pressuring me for time, constantly saying that he had to get on the road, and constantly reassuring me that my belongings would be taken care of. Finally he told me that he could only accept cash, as that was the company rule. I was a little angry at this and had him get a supervisor on the phone. They confirmed this statement, at which point I told them that there was no way I could get the cash on such a short notice. They reluctantly agreed to let me sign a credit card statement for a deposit of $1440. He claimed that he needed 60 percent of the 2000lb quote, which came to $816 for the deposit, plus approximately $530 for packaging materials(I didn't know 22 boxes could cost so damn much) as well as a fuel surcharge and tax. I signed the slip and they were on their way.

Approximately an hour later, I received a call from the moving company stating that I would have to pay for 6500lbs, or they would not move my belongings, which they held in their truck, presumably en route to a storage facility. I restated the original quote as I remembered it, to which the man on the phone stated that he was holding a contract with my signature on it for 6500lbs, and would not release my belongings for less than the full sum due. At this point, I threatened legal action...He laughed, said"Fine", and hung up the phone. I called a few lawyers, including a few who were friends. All advised me that the best course of action would be to get my things back in any way possible and file suit afterward in small claims.

Some advised the state attorney's office, but all recommended I wait until I had my belongings safely in my possession before doing so. I spent a day wallowing in sheer rage before finally resigning myself to trying to get my things back. I called the company back approximately two days later, explaining that I could not afford the 6500lbs that they were demanding. The man on the phone then stated that in consideration of the situation, he would drop the amount to 4500lbs. When asked why he could not honor the original contract of 1500lbs, he stated that he could not do so for less than 4500lbs, or he would be operating at a loss, which made me wonder why I was quoted 1500lbs in the first place. I reluctantly agreed to the furnish the amount required to get my belongings to philadelphia and back into my possession. Noteably, a $250 storage fee was removed from my account by this company without my permission during this timeframe, presumably because they wanted to charge me for holding my things while I "made up my mind".

The previously established date of arrival (aug 1st 2008) passed, and I called the company wanting to know where my things were. They informed me that the driver would call me when he was in the area. Nearly two weeks later, with no information coming back, and no phone call as was promised, I again called the company(Aug 11th). They stated that my belongings were ready to deliver and would be delivered the next day(12th). They then stated that I would need to provide an additional 1, 707 in cash in order to secure my belongings, and that I would have to pay in advance. I argued about the legitimacy of paying cash for this transaction, and at the same time, I stated that I wanted to see my things, and to make sure that they were all there before I paid. He stated over the phone that the truck would not be opened until payment had been secured in cash. At the time, a friend of mine who was with me made a joke about whether or not they wanted it in a paper bag with a bottle of Hennessey, which I didn't think was too funny at the time(I was obviously too angry).

These people literally held my belongings hostage for ransom. When the movers finally arrived the day of, I had been up all night trying to find a way to secure the money in cash required. Only being able to pull 500 a day out of my account, this was not possible, and to be honest, I truly did not want to pay these people cash with no paper trail anyway. The movers would not open the truck until I finally agreed to sign the inventory sheet, even though I had seen none of my things by this point. Notably, the movers were not from the same company that I had originally contracted with. I tried to get the mover to accept a card for the payment, simply to get my things(and avoid another fee for them leaving and returning later), and at first he was reluctant, but then it was finally agreed that I could use the card, if I was willing to pay an additional 5 percent as a surcharge, bringing my total up to $1800 at the time. The mover also stated that his men expected a 20 percent payment to even move things in, but settled for a little less than that, simply because I was angry, tired, and just wanted my things back. As we were doing an inventory, it was noted that 3 boxes did not have any markings, and that a fourth box, which of course was the one that held all of my electronics, was completely missing. This was of course, after the movers made a big show of unwrapping my flat screen TV and performing a Vanna White impression to show that it had not been damaged on the trip(It had so much padding you probably could have bounced it off the ground 3 times and still not even scratched it). It was suggested that I call the main company and make a claim, and I was told that he would go back to the warehouse and see if he could find the missing box. I called the company and was given the number for the claims company, which had a suspiciously generic name, where I was told that regardless of what was missing, I would only be paid 70 cents a pound for the missing items.

BTW, because they took so much money from me, I was forced into poverty in PA, where I had transferred into Temple University, and because I spent most of the semester trying to find a job and get organized(things I had originally planned to have extra money for by working like a slave my last year before transferring), I ended up failing out of most of my classes...I went from a 3.5 average transferring in to a 0.90 for the semester while paying out of state tuition at over 11 grand a semester...

This company is nothing but a pack of thieves and should be dealt with...the fact that they have a DOT and ICC # is telling of the governmental standards for such businesses...
Comments:28 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-03-29
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
You will definitely need an attorney. This is a big mess that would need to be dealt with in large claims court.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
Before you decide to take this to a "large claims court", get advice from an attorney. They will usually provide you with a free or discounted fee for looking over your case initially. Not that this is a small amount of money but what you end up paying in legal fees and court costs by suing them in the "large claims court" (whatever that is) you may end up paying more than what you paid out to the company. You may be advised by an attorney to take them to small claims court, depending on the dollar limits in your state. In small claims you may not get the full amount if it is over the limit, but you also would not be paying out huge legal fees and court costs.
Posted by old fart on 2009-03-28:
Yeah... what the heck IS large claims court...?
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
Large Claims Court, aka Circuit Court, is the step above small claims court for cases that exceed the jurisdictional limit of small claims.

More information here: http://library.findlaw.com/1999/Jun/1/127725.html

There are definitely more collateral damages than just the over-inflated moving costs that the OP was forced to pay.
Posted by old fart on 2009-03-28:
I've never heard it called that as opposed to "circuit court"..
Posted by Slimjim on 2009-03-28:
Actually John, you're, right. Poster did say a few attorneys told him/her to secure the items then sue small claims. I don't see that ending to this story, but it sounds like the correct advice.
Posted by old fart on 2009-03-28:
I don't know how it works in other states but attornies are not permitted in small claims court..
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
I could be reading this wrong, but Soaring, did you read the total dollar amounts in question? This is no offense to the OP because EVERY dollar counts, but if they are having difficulty getting money together to pay this fee, do you really think they have enough money to pay an attorney? Unless of course it was contingent upon winning the case.

Let me put this scenario out there, which are not real numbers, but they will make my point: The OP is ripped off of $5500. The limit for small claims in their state is $5000, which is $500 over the limit. Is it really worth the attorneys fees and court costs to go after $500 when they could potentially lose the case, be out their orginal $5500, be out their attorneys fee's, plus the attorneys fees of the company because they lost and had to pay the expenses PLUS court costs. I believe the OP may have a case and the company does need a smack down, but we have to think smart and we have to be prudent when we are making suggestions to others that could potentially cost them additional thousands of dollars.

To the poster of this complaint: It may be small thing to you, but the fact that you brought this complaint to this forum is huge and you warned anyone and everyone who comes across this site as to the bad business practices this company exercises. Thank you! You've done us a great service. :)
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
Did you notice near the end the OP mentions the additional $11,000 loss per semester due to the problems resulting from the move? That is why I think it should go to large claims so all damages can be recovered for.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
Soaring, those are consequential damages made by decisions of the OP and I doubt that ANY court would award that judgement. I am not a lawyer or an attorney, but neither are you. We have got to be careful Soaring. I'm sorry and this is sounding harsh which is not my intention but you seem very sue happy and it is starting to get extremely tiresome.
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
True. Our best bet is to let the OP consult an attorney and see what is recoverable before deciding which route is best.
Posted by Ben There on 2009-03-28:
Billable hours can eat through 5K very quickly...
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-28:
actually, I didn't count the tuition costs in my analysis either, and to be honest, I'd rather the company just suffer a loss of it's DOT and ICC#'s as a result of this more so than receiving any personal compensation. In other words, I'd rather incapacitate this organization from ever being able to do this to someone else. Losing my belongings and money hurt yes, but the fact that they stole the uniform that was issued to me in boot camp as a Marine turned this situation into a matter of honor. I am a resilient person, and I have bounced back quite a bit since it happened, despite my poor performance last semester in classes. I was forced to take a hiatus from school, which allowed me to essentially collect my thoughts on this situation. I honestly cannot afford a lawyer, especially after all of this, but I do not want to see this company go unpunished either.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
You are right Madpoetx, and I do not want to see this company go unpunished either. My main concern and maybe I too it to an extreme is that I did not want you to have to go though any more emotional or financial hardship. I do wish you the best of luck. :)
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
Just checked on the jurisdictional limits - $7,500 is the actual California small claims limit, and it is a lot better than $5,000, the limit I originally thought. So small claims would probably indeed be better for you, you would only have to pay a filing fee.

And most attorneys do offer free consultations, so it would probably be worth to get one anyway.

As for your goal of removing their certification, contact the DOT (http://www.dot.gov/) and ICC (http://www.iccsafe.org/).
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
I had never heard of the ICC, but I have heard of the DOT. I am positive if the OP has heard of them, he or she has more than likely already filed a complaint/grievance.
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-28:
Oh, and my loss estimate is only about 4300... about $2500 for the electronics and the $1800 difference between my original quote by the company and what I ultimately paid out to them in credit receipts(not counting the cash outlay for the movers themselves who demanded the 20 percent...I chalk that up as unrecoverable. I have been thinking about small claims as my lawyer/friend recommends, but it requires me to get back to California to do so, and I currently don't have the time or the money to be doing that...
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
I suggest that you ask during your free consultation if travel expenses are recoverable in small claims as well as if you would be able to sue in your local division.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
Only $4300? Thats still quite a chunk of change. This should have never happened to you. This might sound kind of extreme but since this happened to you here in California, contact the media. Put a bug in the ear of one of the consumer reporters. If you are from SoCal, contact CBS 2, they also own KCAL 9.. contact Fox 11, they also own KCOP 13. You will get double exposure from two networks on four channels. Just a thought, not sure if you would think its worth your time.
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-28:
ICC is interstate commerce commission...because the movers cross state lines, they have to have an ICC # in order to transport between two states. Filed with them and the DOT, havn't heard back, will probably have to refile again...that's how government agencies are sometimes...
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-28:
when I say only, I only mean so as a reference to comparison to the $5500 which someone stated before. Believe me, I feel the loss...I spent the previous year working double overtime at 9 bucks an hour in a juvenile detention facility while going to school full-time(15-17 units per semester) to make the extra money I expected to have as a padding to land on when I got here to PA and got settled in. With no padding, I crashed pretty hard, which caused the horrible GPA last semester...
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
The $5500 was from me. That was just an example to soaring for a number to relate to regarding the costs that could potentially be involved. I apologize if I didn't make it clear that was only an example. You will bring your GPA back up. Don't let these schmucks at the company bring you down. You seem to have a balanced head on your shoulders. They can't take that away from you. :)
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-28:
just another lesson in life, in my book...all I can really chalk it up as when the chips are down. I'm not the first guy to get taken by a bad consumer experience, or this site would be a ghost town, right?:)
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2009-03-28:
Yours is considerably worse than the others. I wouldn't let them get away with it.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
from the sounds of it the OP hasnt let them get away with it. Word of mouth is the best tool and hopefully they will be recoup their losses.
Posted by Slimjim on 2009-03-28:
Again correct John. Just by posting this complaint on this site, the poster has dealt a blow. Companies that title themselves by their web address do have potential downsides by doing so. It is a very specific hit when surfing and anyone using an engine and not the address bar to find them, likely will now find this complaint as well.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-03-28:
madpoetx, I could hardly get through your review without getting really angry. I hope you take this company to the cleaners for what they did to you! Sadly, they're probably like many other shady businesses of this type, they get enough complaints/suits, they just move on and change their name and start all over again.
Thanks for sharing your experience, if nothing else, you've no doubt helped a few others. Good luck!!
Posted by madpoetx on 2009-03-29:
Actually, they did change their name...They are now known as betterwaytomove.com. I found them again by typing wearemoving into the bbbonline site...turns out they have 57 unanswered complaints in the last 3 years...that will help a little should I take them to court, although with 57 unanswered complaints, I'll probably have to get in line, lol...

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